Lebanon faces significant challenges emanating from the war in Syria, including hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees, proportionate to the country’s population.

The Syrian crisis has led to an influx of more than 1.2 million refugees into Lebanon since the start of the crisis, creating severe economic, political and social strains.

The lack of established shelter and housing for refugees in Lebanon has resulted in widespread displacement across thousands of villages, communities and informal settlements.

Based on current data, over 300,000 Syrian refugees have settled in the governorates of Beirut and Mount Lebanon alone.

Five years on, Syrian refugees and Lebanese communities already struggling pre-crisis with high unemployment rates and a weak economy are becoming increasingly vulnerable. As their displacement extends and their savings deplete, the socio-economic vulnerability of refugees increases, putting downward pressure on host communities as local economies are in turn squeezed by the crisis.

Confronted with a protracted crisis, traditionally humanitarian actors are increasingly becoming involved in the provision of livelihoods and market-strengthening programs that confront issues related to employment, access to work, and addressing the longer-term socio-economic needs of refugees and host country populations.

Organizations like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and others have started operating Livelihoods Centers that provide support to jobseekers, entrepreneurs and employers. These organizations have also started offering outreach and support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Building Markets was engaged by the IRC to conduct a market assessment to help the organization identify practical ways in which it could provide meaningful support to MSMEs, with a particular focus on training and mentorship.

Leveraging over a decade of expertise in accelerating the growth of local businesses in crisis-affected countries, this report provides a snapshot of Lebanese micro, small and medium-sized enterprises operating in Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

The report highlights demographic information as well as needs, perceptions, opportunities, capacity constraints, and other challenges. Recommendations are intended to guide the design and implementation of MSME support initiatives for donors, government, policymakers, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business support providers, financial institutions, research practitioners and local businesses.

Read the full report here